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Neil R. Jones Papers

A description of his papers at Syracuse University

Finding aid created by: MRC
Date: 18 Feb 2010

Biographical History

Neil R. (Ronald) Jones (1909-1988) was an American science fiction author from Fulton, New York.

Jones attended Fulton High School from 1924-1928, where he was on the staff of The Fultonian, his high school yearbook. He published several stories in The Fultonian, and won a local prize for an essay in 1927. His first professionally-published story was in 1930, and in 1931 he published the first of his Professor Jameson tales. Over the course of an approximately twenty-year career he published at least fifty stories, mostly science fiction but also a few detective/mystery stories, and invented at least one board game, "Interplanetary." Authors who were influential on his work included Edgar Rice Burroughs and H. Rider Haggard (author profile, Amazing Stories, April 1941). Some of his Professor Jameson stories were republished into the 1970s, but he appears to have largely ceased writing fiction in the early 1950s. He did continue writing his personal diaries, which he had begun in 1924.

Jones served in the US Army during World War II (1942-1945), during which time he met and married Rita Gwendolin Rees of London. Following the war he worked for many years as an insurance claims examiner for the state of New York. In 1970, a few years after Rita's death in 1964, he married Leona M. Tice. At one point he apparently ran a business (whether mail-order or physical is unknown) called "Interplanetary" which specialized in science fiction. One of his hobbies was hand bookbinding, both in leather and cloth; he bound not only issues of early science fiction magazines but also his high school notebooks, his correspondence, and random printed items such as owner's manuals for appliances. He was active in the local Boy Scouts and in the Fulton chapter of De Molay, the Masonic youth organization, and was a member of Hiram Lodge No. 144.

Although neither prolific nor well-known today, Jones was nevertheless an important figure in early science fiction. His first story, published in Air Wonder Stories in 1930, is the first recorded use of the word "astronaut," and he was one of the first, if not the first, author to write on now-classic science fiction tropes such as cyborg and robotic characters and cryopreservation. Many of his stories centered on Professor Jameson, a cryopreserved human revived 40 million years in the future by the Zoromes, a part-organic/part-machine race. Isaac Asimov, who read the stories at the age of eleven, has called the Zoromes the "spiritual ancestors" of his positronic robots.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Neil R. Jones Papers consist of correspondence, diaries, financial/legal papers, memorabilia, printed material and writings. Much of the material in the collection was handbound by Jones into volumes with fabric or leather covers.

Correspondence consists of correspondence with editors, fans, fanzine authors, science fiction organizations, various hotels, and letters from Jones to his mother while he was deployed in Europe during World War II. Most of the correspondence is in volumes handbound by Jones.

Diaries form a substantial part of the collection. There are 259 consecutive volumes of diaries, two binders of war diaries, and one "Line a Day’"diary. The dairies run from May 1924, when Jones was 14, to March 1980, when he was 70. He numbered the diary volumes himself and designated every 25th diary as a "summary diary" of the previous 24; the summary diaries number ten volumes. He states that he started the diaries as a way to record his swims, a habit that continues through all volumes. Another use for his diary was to record information relating to his stories such as chapter heads, forecasts, title changes, payments for, publication information, comments from readers in pulp magazines, details of when he worked on them, and much more. Besides his stories, the diaries chronicle major and minor life events, swims, various gambling game scores (black jack, "rumme", roulette, etc.), Freemasonry events and meetings, quotations, illustrations, meteorological events observed, movies seen, books read, and various memorabilia items pasted onto the pages.

Financial and legal papers contains contracts, copyright filings, estate planning papers, and royalties for Jones' books.

Memorabilia contains original art by Leo Morey and Robert Sherrey, photograph albums (two of which relate to Jones' service during World War II), schoolwork and school papers bound into volumes by Jones, scrapbooks, and yearbooks from Fulton High School. The scrapbooks include five volumes filled with clippings of articles on scientific topics, seven volumes filled with cut-up illustrated book jackets, and two volumes of postcards; the rest are filled with clippings, letters, programs, receipts, greeting cards, leaflets, occasional typed pages or items of correspondence, and so on. At least one of the scrapbooks was the work of Jones' wife, Rita Gwendoline Jones.

Pulp magazines, bound consists of one hundred and forty handbound volumes containing issues of pulp magazines from the 1920s through the 1950s. Bindings are in a range of materials (leather, fabric, etc.) and many are hand-decorated by Jones.

Printed material consists of a wide range of booklets, pamphlets, brochures, fliers, catalogs, leaflets, and other printed items, handbound by Jones into volumes. Contents range from installation/owners' manuals to stamp catalogs to leaflets advertising movies at the State Theatre in Fulton to travel brochures. There are a number of items related to the Fulton chapter of De Molay.

Writings includes novels (three science fiction and one semi-autobiographical novel based on Jones' experiences during World War II); stories for two series (Durna Rangue and Professor Jameson), reviews, and short fiction (mostly science fiction but also a few mystery/detective tales). The miscellaneous material at the end of this series includes non-fiction pieces, a speech prepared for WorldCon, eight small "War Notebooks," and several bound volumes of story ideas, outlines, and synopses. Formats present in the collection include original handwritten manuscripts, typescripts, carbon copies, and photocopies. Many of the items were sewn together, and a few bound with decorative covers, by Jones.

Arrangement of the Collection

Given that almost all of the material in the collection is in bound volumes, arrangement was largely limited to putting these volumes into the general categories listed above. Correspondence volumes are arranged in roughly chronological order. Diary volumes are arranged by number as assigned by Jones, which places them essentially in chronological order apart from the "summary volumes" which cover multiple years. Financial and legal material is arranged alphebetically by type or topic. Memorabilia is subdivided by type; within each type, the volumes are arranged in roughly chronological order. For printed material, volumes containing a single type of material (e.g. State Theater programs) are placed first, followed by the other miscellaneous volumes. Writings are subdivided by type and, within each type, arranged alphabetically by title.


Access Restrictions:

The majority of our archival and manuscript collections are housed offsite and require advance notice for retrieval. Researchers are encouraged to contact us in advance concerning the collection material they wish to access for their research.

Use Restrictions:

Written permission must be obtained from SCRC and all relevant rights holders before publishing quotations, excerpts or images from any materials in this collection.

Related Material

Several cartons of commercially published magazines have been removed from the collection and are currently undergoing curator review.

Many of Jones' stories may be found in published anthologies and pulp magazines in our Rare Books holdings. Please refer to the Classic Catalog to locate these items (search on "jones, neil r." as author). In addition, Special Collections Research Center has substantial material relating to the early days of science fiction in both our Rare Books and manuscript collections. Please refer to the Classic Catalog to located related published material, and to the SCRC Subject Index for a complete listing of manuscript collections.

Subject Headings


Jones, Neil R., 1909-1988 -- Professor Jameson space adventure.
Jones, Neil R., 1909-1988.
Morey, Leo.
Sherrey, Robert C.

Corporate Bodies

Ace Books.
DeMolay (Organization)
Doubleday & Company, Inc.
Grosset & Dunlap.
John Hancock Mutual Life Insurance Company.

Associated Titles

Amazing stories (New York, N.Y. : 1926)
Astounding stories (New York, N.Y. : 1933)
Thrilling wonder stories.
Wonder stories.


Authors, American.
Bookbinding -- Specimens.
Detective and mystery stories, American.
Fantasy fiction, American.
Pulp literature.
Science fiction -- Periodicals.
Science fiction, American.
Soldiers' writings, American.
Stamp collecting.
World War, 1939-1945 -- Personal narratives.


France -- Description and travel.
Fulton (N.Y.) -- History.
Germany -- Description and travel.

Genres and Forms

Catalogs (documents)
Clippings (information artifacts)
Manuscripts for publication.
Operating manuals.
Paintings (visual works)
Photograph albums.
Picture postcards.
Programs (documents)



Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

Neil R. Jones Papers,
Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries

Acquisition Information

Gift of Neil R. Jones, 1988.

Table of Contents



Financial and legal material


Printed material

Pulp magazines, bound